Nosh Pit

Wine Buzz: Northern California wineries basking in buds

Across Northern California, tiny buds are growing on grape vines and showing that spring has definitely sprung. Budbreak has arrived, signaling the yearly kickoff of a wine grape’s growing cycle.

Many winemakers are expecting an early harvest and lighter-than-usual crop for 2014, given the ongoing drought and California emerging from its warmest winter on record. But for now, the arrival of budbreak means it’s time to celebrate the beginning of a growing season and hope for a fruitful harvest – as if wine lovers need an excuse to open some bottles.

Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg (35265 Willow Ave., Clarksburg) will host its “Budbreak & Barrel Tasting Weekend” Saturday and Sunday. The festivities include live music plus food from the Pasta Queen, the Sacatomatoes food truck and more. Admission is free, but for an addition $10 you can take a sensory wine-evaluation seminar from Norma Poole of Napa Valley College.

And of course, plenty of wine will be flowing. Old Sugar Mill hosts tasting rooms for 10 wineries – including Heringer Estates, Todd Taylor and Clarksburg Wine Co. – and each will be offering barrel tastings to give a preview of wines that will soon be bottled. Vineyard tours and other demos will also be offered.

For more information: (916) 744-1615,

Wine Buzz bids farewell

Today marks the final dispatch of Wine Buzz, but fear not, fans of the grape. I’m penning a new column, The Nosh Pit, which debuts Sunday and will cover food and drink issues facing Sacramento and beyond – in a fresh and conversational sort of way.

Coming up, we’ll discuss the so-called “glove law” that’s turned into a soap opera for California chefs. Also, the city of Sacramento has wrapped the local mobile food movement in another batch of red tape. What will it take for Sacramento’s food truck scene to finally gain civic support?

The Nosh Pit will kick off Sunday with a wine-related matter. Don’t want to give away too much, but we’ll be touching base with a certain Amador County winemaker who takes a counter-intuitive perspective on current water worries. Thanks for all the Wine Buzz readership, and we’ll see you Sundays in The Nosh Pit.